Looking Back At 2016, the Annual Tadaa List

As every year it is time to post the list of things that gave me a feeling of accomplishment, that made me go ‘tadaa!’. I am always very much forward focussed, which leads me to easily overlook or even forget the things I did, or missing how those things form a bigger whole. I’m usually more aware of what is still left to do, unfinished or needs to be prepared. The consequence is I can think back on a year as if nothing much happened, even if the opposite is true. As a reminder to myself I post this yearly list, triggered by my friend Ernst in 2010 (read the 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 editions)

Personal events marked 2015 and that was just as true for 2016, although this time the personal events were about new beginnings instead of loss. As a result I had to make different choices, which I think worked out well mostly.
So in no particular order (except for the first few items), here’s my Tadaa-list for 2016:

  • End of May our daughter Yfke was born. I can spend long times just watching her explore the world around her.
  • With my sisters we liquidated my parents household, and I executed my parents wills. We also scattered my parents ashes in the places they chose for themselves. I am grateful for how well we worked together as siblings to finish this rather intensive effort, each of us finding our natural and complemental roles in that process.
  • In between my parents death and my daughters birth, I took a deep dive in my notes from my depression over 20 years ago (over 200 pages). Allowing me to tie up some left-over loose ends as a consequence, but also seeing a range of still existing patterns which made me realise I’ve been keeping myself back out of caution for not “going through the ice again”.
  • Hired a coach to help deal with those still present patterns in how they influence my personal and professional routines.
  • Found a unifying formulation for my work in general, agency in a networked world
  • Formulated a unifying framework for all my open data work, that addresses various building blocks and all levels of maturity
  • Got to be there for friends, friends got to be there for me. Thank you.
  • Outsourced more, and hired people, in ways that really freed me up and multiplied my agency. The learning curve to do that effectively is all mine, and I failed in previous years. Slowly getting the hang of it. I am now an employer.
  • Focused on fewer things, said “no” more often, had a great business year as a result
  • Turned down gigs in Indonesia, Italy, and the Middle East as part of saying “no” more often
  • Enjoyed providing open data implementation support in Serbia. It is always inpsiring to work with people who are out to change things
  • Spent two weeks in Malaysia on a national open data readiness assessment. Such a future-focused country, and such a pleasure to work with my team and all government counterparts.
  • Spent 4 months at home around the birth of our daughter. Her falling asleep on my belly, while conference calling around the world.
  • Enjoying giving a key-note at the global FOSS4Geo conference, as first ‘outing’ after those four months, speaking about ethics and impact in open data

    Me speaking in former German parliament plenary in Bonn at FOSS4G (photo by Jo Hempel)
  • Realized the goal we set in 2013, to be ready to move to the center of the Netherlands by the end of 2016. Sold our house in a week this December, and bought a house in Amersfoort
  • Landed two small experimental projects, to test the usability of my agency model, that unifies the work I’ve done over the past 18 years or so
  • Seeing and feeling the beauty that resides in the layeredness of loss, joy, grief and happinness
  • Slowly but steadily redesigning my digital information processes to much better mirror the distributed design of the internet itself, leaving silos like Google, taking out single points of failure (and speaking about it at the Koppelting conference)
  • Thoroughly enjoyed working in Fryslân on open data, as a steady commitment throughout the year
  • Researched in depth what it takes to build a national data infrastructure (pdf) with Swiss colleagues and the Bern university of applied sciences (this work also helped give rise to my unified framework for my open data work)
  • Worked in Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Serbia and Malaysia, enjoying and learning from the diversity of perspectives that yields
    Kuala Lumpur
    Dinner al fresco in Kuala Lumpur, planning open data in Fruska Gora national park in Serbia
  • Designed and provided an open data master course to some 50 archivists, on behalf of the Dutch national archive, where real interventions were part of the program. As a result data got published, awareness was raised, data quality improved and Dutch archives are now opener than they were a year ago.
    Archief 2020 Mastercourse open data Archief 2020 Mastercourse open data
    working with groups of archivists in different locations

This year I traveled much less than in previous years (26 days, down 70-75%, in 5 countries). I also worked less than previous years, 1779 hours in total (down from 1940 last year, and over 2400 in 2011). Both mostly because of staying home for 4 months, and spending 2 days a week at home taking care of our daughter. The travel I did do, made me realize that I do need such change of perspective regularly, and that travel is very much, as Bryan Alexander said to me, a habit. As for the number of hours, I have been aiming to bring the total hours down over the last 5 years (now a 28% reduction over 5 years), and hopefully will be able to keep it at least stable in 2017. Reading was one thing I did less of than I hoped, reading 42 books, in bursts more really, than evenly spread out at a consistent pace.

The last days of the year, and the first few of 2017, we’ll be spending with dear friends in Switzerland. Yfke’s first international trip (disregarding the short cuts through Germany to visit the north of the Netherlands).
Ever onwards!

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